Colorado residents who sit down to make a will may devote considerable thought to coming up with provisions that make sense and reflect their wishes. However, all that effort can end up for nothing if the will fails due to noncompliance with legal requirements.
Although the technicalities of making a will are generally straightforward, specific situations can introduce added complexities. Discussing your concerns with an experienced professional can help you ensure your will remains effective.
To make a valid will, a testator must be 18 years or older. He or she must be of sound mind. The question of whether a testator was of sound mind tends to arise when the will contains bizarre provisions coupled with indications of diminished capacity.
Generally, a person possesses the requisite capacity if he or she has a basic understanding of the property he or she possesses, knows the nature of his or her familial relationships, and knows what it means to leave an asset to someone in a will. This is a lower standard than other kinds of legal capacity. Thus, a prior court ruling of incapacity to enter contracts can point to diminished capacity but does not prove a lack of testamentary ability.
Another potential red flag is the diagnosis of a condition whose symptoms include mental decline. However, such a diagnosis does not constitute proof of incapacity either. Sometimes, people who anticipate a potential challenge based on incapacity take measures such as seeking out a cognitive examination by an expert who can provide a detailed report.
The will must also bear the signatures of two witnesses who saw the testator sign the will or direct another person to sign it. The testator must be aware of the presence of the witnesses.
Other types of wills
Colorado recognizes holographic wills, which consist of a wholly handwritten document, with or without witnesses. On the other hand, an oral will is not valid.